NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Rev. Al Sharpton and other civil rights leaders have launched a social media campaign in an effort to stop the violent "knockout game."
Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, joined National Urban League president Marc Morial, hip-hop legend Russell Simmons, and Jewish leader Rabbi Marc Schneier, to promote the effort. Simmons and Schneier are chairman and president, respectively, of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.
The civil rights leaders want to stop the "knockout game" and the targeting of Jews. Reports of "knockout game" attacks have been reported around the country, and have been concentrated in particular in Brooklyn.
Sharpton, Simmons and Morial have all recorded message of solidary with the Jewish community and all of the victims of the violent attacks.
"The knockout game is not a game," Sharpton says in a brief video message. "It is vicious. It is ugly. It must be stopped."
Simmons has recorded more than one video denouncing the "knockout game."
"This knockout game is some bulls**t. I mean, it's terrible. I mean, how come you all want to hit people that look like they've got on devotional clothing and might not hit you back? Why don't you hit somebody that might hit you back?" he said in one. "I mean, the knockout game is for cowards."
The civil rights leaders have asked people to join them by sending the following message through social media:
"End the #knockoutgame #sayNO2KO join the @FFEUny to end the violence +bigotry. Knockout #gameover."
In a news release, Sharpton said the attacks cannot be tolerated.
"These kids are targeting innocent people, and in many cases specifically targeting Jewish folks. We would not be silent if it were the other way around, and we will not be silent now. This behavior is racist, period. And we will not tolerate it," he said.
Numerous "knockout game" attacks have been reported in recent weeks, targeting everyone from preteens to seniors. In the most recent reported incident, police said a 26-year-old man was punched by a woman just before 11 p.m. <a title="Hasidic Man Victim Of Latest Possible 'Knockout' Assault In Williamsburg" this past Sunday night at Bedford Avenue and Taylor Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said a pattern has emerged but stopped short of saying the Jewish community is being targeted in these types of attacks.
"It seems clear that overwhelmingly here in New York the victims have been Jewish, there's no question about that," Hikind told Smith. "You have New Yorkers who are afraid to walk the streets, afraid to let their kids walk the in streets because you don't know who the next victim is going to be."
He said the attacks are so random that he's not sure how to stop them. But Hikind added something needs to be done.'
The wave of attacks, where the perpetrator attempts to knock out an unsuspecting stranger with a single blow, began in Crown Heights in October. Police had previously beefed up patrols in some of the communities that have seen several incidents.
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